The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War

The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War

by Asne Seierstad

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In the early hours of New Year's Eve 1994, Russian troops invaded Chechnya, plunging the country into a prolonged and bloody conflict. A foreign correspondent in Moscow at the time, Åsne Seierstad traveled regularly to Chechnya to report on the war, describing its effects on those trying to live their daily lives amidst violence. Over the course of a decade, she traveled in secret and under the constant threat of danger.

In a broken and devastated society, Seierstad lived amongst the wounded and the lost. And she lived with the orphans of Grozny, those who will shape the country's future, asking the question: what happens to children who grow up surrounded by war and accustomed to violence?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465019496
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 807,629
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning journalist who has reported from such war-torn regions as Chechnya,China, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The author of A Hundred and One Days as well as The Bookseller of Kabul, she lives in Norway.

Table of Contents

1 The Little Wolf 1

2 ... sharpens his kinzhal 11

3 The First War 28

4 Wolf Hunt 49

5 Return 63

6 The Angel of Grozny 71

7 The Abused 78

8 Living in a Fog 88

9 Friday Evening 96

10 Sleep in a Cold Room - Wake Up in a Cold Room 119

11 Between Mecca and the Kremlin 137

12 The Enemy Among Us 152

13 Welcome to Ramzania 162

14 New Grozny and the Green Zone 173

15 The Youth Palace 179

16 War and Peace 198

17 His Father's Son 210

18 Tea, Old Woman? 226

19 While Putin Watches 235

20 Honour 246

21 The Fist 253

22 For the Fatherland 291

23 Minus and Plus 311

24 The Little Wolf and the Thief 317

Thank You 341

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The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Lillian3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is going to haunt me for a long time. Does being aware of these stories somehow lessen the burden of the people who are living them out? I love Asne's writing. It reminds me very much of the work of Ryzard Kapuscinski. Asne pulls back the cover from a very dark corner of the world ... one hopes that with awareness will come action/understanding/help to a place that desperately needs it.
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think that I've ever read a book that has made me so aware about how little I know. I'm a bit of a news junkie, so I'd read whatever showed up in the papers about Chechnya, but that didn't even touch what is going on now and what has happened in Chechnya's bloody past. For example, did you know that Stalin deported the whole damn country to Khazakhstan? A half million mountain people were sent to live on the plains of Khazakhstan with no means of support. Twenty-five percent died on the journey or in the first few months.Seierstad wrote The Bookseller of Kabul, in which she lived with a family in Afghanistan. The Angel of Grozny is much more far-reaching in scope. She first went to Chechnya during the first Chechen war soon after she'd gotten a job working for a Norwegian newspaper as the correspondent for Russia, based entirely on her knowledge of Russian. She talked herself onto a Russian military plane and was dropped off at the Grozny airport. She chose to trust people and, in turn, random people invited her into their homes and told their stories.Seierstad must be an easy person to talk to. She speaks with everyone from the leader of Chechnya to orphaned children, disabled Russian veterans and a man who killed his sister in an honor killing. This was not an easy book to read; the violence in Chechnya has no easy solutions, nor even difficult ones. Were the Russians to leave, civil war would erupt, the Chechens themselves divided between traditional Muslims and the more extreme Wahabists, as well as divisions along tribal lines.
EPClark More than 1 year ago
Asne Seierstad was a freelance journalist in Moscow when the first Chechen war broke out. Acting under a poorly-understood compulsion to find out what was really going on there, she sweet-talked her way onto a military transport plane and ended up in Grozny. She spent several months during the first war, and again during the second war, slipping around Chechnya, often disguised as a Chechen woman in order to avoid attention and get into places foreigners were forbidden to enter, so she could interview people touched by the conflict. Hosted by Hadijat, a woman running an unofficial orphanage in Grozny, she focuses heavily on the stories of women and children, but also speaks with others, including a couple of encounters with Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's infamous president. The result is a fascinating book in which interviews and Seierstad's personal experiences are woven into a more or less coherent narrative. Seierstad's own story is riveting: she makes no claims to heroism, but she is obviously a tough and determined reporter, who doesn't hesitate to visit taboo families, such as the relatives of resistance fighters and even participants in the Dubrovka siege, or to ask Kadyrov probing questions, which he sidesteps with stunning barrages of word salad. The picture she paints of Chechnya's current leader is grim: while she is slightly more sympathetic than, say, Politkovskaya, mentioning how he sits there doodling flowers with faces and looking sheepish when she asks tough questions, the ultimate impression is of someone utterly unsuited to uphold the dignity of office he represents, and who can't even sit still and speak in complete, coherent sentences, let alone tell the truth. The allegations of misconduct against Kadyrov are graver than those aimed at the US's own Donald Trump, but in character, they seem worrisomely similar. But enough about that. A fluent Russian speaker and originally well-disposed towards Russia and Russians, Seierstad finds herself becoming increasingly appalled by the excesses inflicted by her adopted country on this tiny nation. At the same time, Chechnya and the Chechens are hardly angels themselves: Seierstad recounts horrifying stories of abuse, in which husbands attack their wives, men rape their children, brothers kill their sisters, and Chechens commit dreadful crimes against other Chechens. Giving Chechens more control, in the form of the Kadyrovtsy, has had nasty side effects: under the guise of returning to their Chechen roots, the government has instigated widespread oppression of women, and people suspected of Wahhabism are grabbed off the street, tortured, and sometimes disappeared. All it takes is for a man to wear his hair slightly too long at the back for him to be whisked away, perhaps never to return; women have it even harder in some ways, since they are now forced to wear headscarves and dress modestly, but dressing TOO modestly and covering up TOO much of their hair can be taken as a sign of Wahhabism. The book came out ten years ago, but if anything it seems that the situation in Chechnya has only gotten more dire, something the book foreshadows: it ends, not with a happy story of rehabilitated orphans, but on a warning note: Hadijat's orphanage is in danger of being shut down, and some of her children are totally out of control, enraging and endangering the others as they act out as a result of the trauma they have suffered.
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